Pramod Bhagat – An Officer and a Champion Shuttler

Pramod Bhagat in action during Asian Para Games, Hangzhou 2022 (Image: Rohan Chowdhury)

It’s all about ability, not disability. Pramod Bhagat, a badminton player with a large heart and hunger for medals is easily one of India’s best Para athletes at the age of 35. When he won a gold at the Tokyo Paralympics three years ago, fans watched in awe as he showcased his skills and swiftness.

Afflicted by polio in Bihar when he was just around five, Pramod never lost heart. He loved sport and watching badminton gave him great joy. Yet, for the teenager to take up the shuttle sport and then polish his skills was sheer passion.

By 13, Pramod was serious, he would pursue badminton. Hailing from Bihar’s Vaishali district, Pramod got backing from fans. That acted as a tonic. There has never been any looking back for the hero, be it in sports or in academics. After all, how many athletes go on to become an Indian Administration Service (IAS) officer. This was his zeal to do well.

And the best part, Pramod continues to work, at an office, clearing files, plus on court. Tokyo was certainly the high point. Those were the dark days of the Covid-19 pandemic when the Games were held minus spectators. After all, in any sport, athletes like to be egged on, goaded. When Pramod won gold, his joy knew no bounds and he was celebrated on return to India.

With less than six months to go for the Paris Olympics, Pramod is confident he will again do well. Such hope is real, not hype, as the gentleman works hard and puts it into practice.

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Sample this, an assortment of medals won till now, one at the Paralympics, five gold, two silver and a bronze at the World Championship, backed by two gold and four bronze at the Para Asian Games, Pramod’s drawing room showcase is glittering. It’s his prized possession. Add to it the Arjuna Award and a Padma Shri, Pramod has been recognised for all his inspirational efforts over the last two decades plus.

Indian athletes won a record 111 medals at the Para Asian Games in Hangzhou and Pramod says this shows how the athletes labour to corner glory. He was not part of the Para Khelo India Games last year, but does feel the initiative from the Government of India needs to be appreciated.

The path for Pramod has not been easy. He has had to deal with injuries as well, before the Tokyo Paralympics as well as the Hangzhou event. Each adversity brought out his inner strength. “I always begin preparation from the start, take nothing for granted,” he told this writer during one of the interactions after Tokyo.

In Hangzhou, he was down 13-18 in the deciding game of one match. But Pramod never lost hope. “I have always believed in positivity,” he said.

Talk of inspiration, an athlete like Pramod Bhagat has so many stories to share, be it on the badminton court or cracking the Civil Services. And he has a word of praise for the media as well, since, in 2000, when he started sports, only cricket was covered.

Pramod will be at the RevSportz TrailBlazers Conclave 2.0 in Kolkata on March 7 and 8. Indeed, he will offer so much to the audience, as his journey has been enchanting. Watch out!

Also Read: Satwik and Chirag – The Duo To Watch Out For In Paris

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